Category: Diane’s Favorites

Adventure of the Peculiar Protocols
October 19th, 2019 by diane92345

The game is afoot in the excellent Sherlock Holmes tale of spies and revolution, the Adventures of the Peculiar Protocols.

Sherlock Holmes’ brother Mycroft enlists Holmes’ help with a mysterious French manuscript. The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion is ostensibly a book recording a conference of Jews describing their plan of world takeover. However, Holmes believes it is a fraud. Confirming the Jewish connection, the Home Office spy who died protecting it was killed with a knife bearing a Jewish star. Does the manuscript’s sudden appearance relate to the nascent Russian revolution? Is it an attempt to blame the entire revolution on the already frequently scapegoated Russian Jews?

The author’s Seven-Percent Solution is my favorite neo-Holmes tale so I snatched this one up as soon as I saw it on NetGalley. And I wasn’t disappointed. This book is equally good and feels like it was written by Doyle himself. The level of detail that matches the original stories is excellent! I most highly recommend the Adventures of the Peculiar Protocols for every Holmes fan. 5 stars!

Thanks to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Diane's Favorites, Historical Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,

Dachshund Through the Snow
October 2nd, 2019 by diane92345

Andy, the perpetually retiring defense lawyer, gets sucked into two cases involving dogs in the fun cozy mystery, Dachshund Through the Snow.

Andy is asked by an old cop frenemy to find a way to get the city to allow the cop’s K-9 partner, Simon, to retire with him in a few weeks. Simon has arthritis and could be hurt if he continues to work. So Andy sues the city alleging that Simon is a city employee who should be able to disability retire. It really is a case of species discrimination!

Laurie, Andy’s wife and an ex-police lieutenant, starts celebrating Christmas in November. So it is no surprise when she selects a wish off a tree in her local pet store. The child requestor, Danny, wants three gifts: a winter coat for his mother, another coat for his dachshund, and his dad to come home.

The coats are no problem. Unfortunately, Danny’s dad is accused killer, Noah. Fourteen years earlier, he met Kristen at a bar. After a few dates on the down-low, they meet in a remote spot. Kristen asks Noah to take her with him when he leaves for college in a few days. When Noah refuses, Kristen becomes distraught and accidentally scratches his face. He leaves. He finds out that she is killed later that night. Fourteen years later, Noah’s brother spits into a genealogy website’s test tube and Noah is caught by his DNA—found under Kristen’s fingernails so long ago.

A Christmas setting has everything I love about cozy mysteries. Family interactions and murder. Okay, I’m not trying to wish up a murder at my next family Christmas party, but it would stop everyone from gossiping—at least for a minute or two. The Andy Carpenter series is always entertaining and this installment is no different. I love the interaction between the characters, who all seem realistic and relatable.  However, the trials are also a smart addition to all the books in this series and that is rare in cozy mysteries. You might even say that Dachshund Through the Snow is a legal thriller set in a cozy mystery world. Plus Andy’s sarcastic asides are hilarious! Overall, I continue to love this series and wait each year for the next to appear. 5 stars!

Thanks to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Diane's Favorites, Humor, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: , , ,

Indistractable
September 15th, 2019 by diane92345

“Being Indistractable means striving to do what you say you will do.”

The author presents four steps that fight the major time sucks in your life and how you deal with them. First, there are concrete methods to master internal triggers that distract from the task you should be doing. The author then states how to make time in your busy schedule for tasks that are a better match to your values. Next up are ways to avoid external triggers that lead to distraction. Finally, ways to prevent distraction are analyzed. There are several chapters on how to encourage your children to be indistractable too.

I see a lot of my behaviors in this book. Even though I blame my pesky co-workers for my lack of focus, many of my problems are actually internal. I get bored easily. I can envision using the tips in this book, essentially gamifying my mundane tasks, will help me focus more. I’ve been setting Alexa’s timer for ten minutes to see if I really need to do something different as the book suggests. Often the desire for doing something else vanishes. The book calls this “surfing the wave” and it has worked for me. Reading Indistractable is a great use of your time so you can schedule time for what matters most to you. 5 stars!

Thanks to BenBella Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Diane's Favorites, New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: ,

Imaginary Corpse
September 12th, 2019 by diane92345

I adored Imaginary Corpse! It is an inventive take on a noir private investigator plot using a fantasy setting.

The Stillreal is where ideas that are too real go when their creator abruptly sends them away. Tippy is a stuffed dinosaur who solves crime in the Stillreal. However, even he is perplexed when Spindleman is beaten to “death” by The Man in the Coat. The problem is ideas can’t be killed in Stillreal, they quickly regenerate. When Spindleman doesn’t, Tippy must investigate.

Wow, I love this clever book! I admit I requested this book more for curiosity than for a great plot. I was surprised by the author’s ability to suspend my initial skepticism by chapter two.

All the noir details are here. Tippy has a root beer problem and drinks it out of a flask. He reads Encyclopedia Brown, the real children’s detective series that started my love of mysteries. Despite being a stuffed dinosaur, Tippy is a fully fleshed-out character haunted by his person’s rejection of him and the rain that caused that rejection.

Setting it in an It’s a Small World-level childhood dream is a brilliant counterpoint to the usually depressing noir world. Who doesn’t love the concept that beloved ideas live elsewhere after their creators abandon them?

Don’t worry that the Imaginary Corpse will be too kitschy. It will suck you into its universe quickly. If you have read one too many standard mysteries or noirs and feel like a palate cleanser, please take a chance on this book. You won’t be sorry. 5 stars and one of my favorite books of 2019!

Thanks to Angry Robot and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Diane's Favorites, Fantasy, Humor, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,

Chestnut Man
September 3rd, 2019 by diane92345

A current Danish murder is entwined with an earlier closed case by a child’s Chestnut Man.

Almost a year ago, a girl named Kristine disappeared. Her mother, Rosa, is high up in Danish politics. Police find a mentally ill man who confesses to the crime and is quickly convicted. However, Kristine’s body is never found.

In the present day, Laura is killed in a graphically violent way on a local playground. Suspicion immediately falls on her live-in boyfriend. Out of town for the day, his alibi is thin. If their relationship was perfect, why had Laura changed all the house’s locks while he was gone without telling him? Her autistic son can’t help explain and he was the only witness inside the family. However, when a Chestnut Man is found at the scene of Laura’s murder with the partial fingerprint of Kristine, the investigating detectives, Thulin and Hess, decide to dig into the earlier case too.

This enthralling police procedural contains a complex and challenging mystery. Despite the rather graphic murder scenes, it is not the typical dark Nordic Noir. I adored this twisty book. It is perfect for armchair detectives who want to challenge themselves.

Even though it is over 500 pages, I was disappointed when it ended. Now I guess I will have to watch The Killing on Netflix by the same author and pray for a sequel. 5 stars!

Thanks to Harper Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Diane's Favorites, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,

Stolen Things
August 22nd, 2019 by diane92345

What is the worst thing that 911 operator Laurie can hear on the job? Her sixteen-year-old daughter calling in saying “Mama? Help me.” Welcome to the adrenaline-fueled ride of Stolen Things. And you are only in chapter two.

The twists never let up in Stolen Things. It is an exhilarating and compelling race to the finish. Don’t start this book in the morning before work unless you are willing to hide out in the bathroom to finish it before the end of the day. It is that good. It is recommended for anyone who enjoys thrillers especially set within a family. 5 stars!

Thanks to Dutton Books and Edelweiss+ for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Diane's Favorites, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: , ,

City of Windows
August 7th, 2019 by diane92345

Watch out Lincoln Rhyme and Amos Decker, there is a new crime-fighter in town! In a City of Windows, how do you determine where a sniper shot from? Ask Lucas Page, a damaged but extraordinarily gifted crime solver in New York City.

When university professor Lucas Page is called on to assist his old employer, the FBI, with finding a sniper, he hesitates to comply. His career there was over years ago when he lost a leg, an arm, and an eye in the line of duty. However, when they say that the victim was his former partner, Lucas agrees. He uses his genius-level math skills to hunt down the sniper. Unfortunately, before he can find him, the killer strikes again. When the sniper threatens his family, Lucas must act quick and decisively to save them from death.

I just loved this (hold on why I pick up my Thesaurus) praiseworthy, spine-tingling thriller. It is everything you want (and need) in a thriller. Compelling plot, surprising twists, well thought-out characters, and an excellent ending are all here. Seriously, you can’t go wrong selecting this book. It’s great! 5 stars!

Thanks to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Diane's Favorites, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with:

Perfect Wife
August 5th, 2019 by diane92345

Abbie is beautiful, creative, and smart. But is she the Perfect Wife?

Tim is the intelligent and driven founder of a tech firm designing robots that include state-of-the-art artificial intelligence. First, the robots are used for phone call centers. The next step is shopbots to replace salespeople in high-end clothing stores. Tim is also socially awkward. It surprises his staff when he starts romancing the free-spirited artist-in-residence Abbie. Could Abbie fit into his work-obsessed life?

Wow, just wow. The Perfect Wife is the perfect merging of science fiction, science fact, and thriller. The best thing is not to learn anything about the plot before reading this excellent thriller. However, I can guarantee you will enjoy it so much it will be as difficult to stop reading as it is to stop breathing. Don’t start reading it a half-hour before work begins unless you plan to call in sick. It is that good!

Again, I can’t recommend this tale highly enough. I also enjoyed the expert use of tenses to delineate timeline and foreshadow the extremely clever ending. 5 stars!

Thanks to Ballantine Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Diane's Favorites, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books, Science Fiction Tagged with: , ,

An Unsettled Grave
August 3rd, 2019 by diane92345

Monica was stopped by a policeman on a lonely country road late one night. Then she was raped by the policeman. Carrie, the sole female county detective, is dispatched to handle the case. When she ruffles the local police force by asking for “voluntary” DNA swabs, Carrie is reassigned to a new case by her politically motivated Chief in An Unsettled Grave.

Old bones of a child are dug up by a hunting dog in the rural Liston-Patterson, Pennsylvania. Hope was twelve years old in 1981 when she went missing. As the only child that age unaccounted for in the small town, the bones are likely hers. When Carrie finds evidence of the crime overlooked at the time in old case files, she decides to solve the crime. The town’s police chief just wants to provide closure for the parents—not reopen old wounds. Carrie also learns of the deaths of both of the town’s police chiefs within a day of Hope’s disappearance. Is it a coincidence? Carrie thinks not and so also investigates those deaths, labeled at the time as a suicide and a shooting by a motorcycle gang.

An Unsettled Grave is unsettling but it is also an exceptional police procedural. It flashes back to 1981 to show the reader what happened while alternating with how Carrie is using evidence to prove it today almost forty years later. You can tell it was written by a former police officer. Carrie is frustrated by politics and apathy making her job more difficult.

The story has larger themes too. Post-Traumatic Stress from the Vietnam War is almost another character in the novel. It impacts two major characters from 1981 resulting in divergent methods to handle it back in the “real world”. Bullying is described in both the present and 1981.

While the story ties into the previous book in the series, this book can easily be read as a standalone. If you love police procedurals, you must read An Unsettled Grave. It is not only my favorite police procedural this year but of all time! It is a gritty and authentic take on police work and a great mystery to boot. 5 stars!

Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Diane's Favorites, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,

Other Mrs. Miller
July 19th, 2019 by diane92345

Phoebe Miller is hiding inside of a wine bottle inside her house for a number of reasons at the beginning of the Other Mrs. Miller.

Phoebe’s father has recently died and left her his fortune. Unfortunately, his death has also triggered a very public outpouring of women accusing him of sexism, sexual harassment, and rape during his lifetime. Phoebe feels both embarrassed and somehow guilty at the same time.

Phoebe and her husband, Wyatt, have had difficulties with having a child. When Wyatt brings up adoption, Phoebe brusquely shuts him down. They are now more roommates than spouses.

There is a strange car frequently parked in front of Phoebe’s house. Phoebe begins to get paranoid that the petite driver is one of her father’s victims or a paparazzo.

When a new family moves in across the street, Phoebe is attracted to the eighteen-year-old son, Jake. But when she brings a housewarming gift, she soon becomes best friends with Jake’s mom, Vicki. Vicki has her own slew of baggage to bring to the table.

To say the Other Mrs. Miller is stuffed with plots would be an understatement. But it is hard not to sympathize with passive Phoebe’s problems. Phoebe seems to just let problems wash over her like a wave that she assumes will eventually recede. When Phoebe finally does an affirmative action to improve her life, fate takes another swipe at her.

The twists and turns of the plot are unexpected and fun like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disneyland. Though I love to try and determine a solution before the characters, I was way off for this book. And I love it! If you like extreme and unexpected plot twists in your domestic thrillers, this is the book for you. 5 stars!

Thanks to G.P. Putnam’s Sons and Edelweiss+ for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Diane's Favorites, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,

The Sleepwalker
July 17th, 2019 by diane92345

Definitely the best noir I’ve read this year! The Sleepwalker is the third dark thriller in the terrific Aidan Waits series.

Down these dark hospital corridors a man must go… Aidan and his shady partner Sutty are watching a serial killer called The Sleepwalker die. The Manchester Police are hoping that the prisoner will tell Sutty where he left the body of his last victim. Instead, he denies the killing immediately before both he and Sutty are bombed in the hospital room.

While this is only the beginning of the twisty tale, I can’t even begin to tell you more without it being a spoiler. What I can do is highly recommend this gritty British noir for its impeccably nuanced characters and impressive plotting. Every noir fan must read this book! Fans of thrillers and police procedurals (though Aidan is not one to follow many rules) will enjoy it also. 5 stars!

Thanks to Doubleday UK and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Diane's Favorites, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: , , ,

Bookish Life of Nina Hill
July 13th, 2019 by diane92345

In the Bookish Life of Nina Hill, Nina is a book lover, a list manic, a cat owner, an introvert, and a nerdy trivia player. Nina is also me! (if I was a Millennial of course).

Nina loves her quiet, well-ordered life working in a bookstore, serving her cat Phil, playing on a pub trivia team, and above all losing herself in books. When she finds herself with a new large extended family after her unknown father’s death, her world threatens to teeter into disorder (or what OCD’ish Nina calls chaos).

While that is the plot in a nutshell, the heart’s blood of the Bookish Life of Nina Hill is Nina herself. All “bookworms” like myself will feel an immediate kinship to Nina. She’s adorable! While outwardly an introvert, Nina’s thoughts are full of snarky side eyes at the people surrounding her and pop/literary references like a book-reading Bart Simpson. Even with her love of her second favorite 19th century novel, Pride and Prejudice, Nina still is of the current century. She is a member of many clubs that sound like they came straight out of the nerdy section of the Meetup app.

Anyone who is female and likes to read will see themselves in Nina and truly enjoy this book. How can a reader not love a book that starts out with a quote from Sally Brown from Peanuts waxing poetic about library cards! It is highly recommended. I loved it and didn’t want it to end. 5 stars!

While I received an advanced review copy from Berkley Books and Edelweiss+ in exchange for my honest review, I also bought it on audio. The narrator, Emily Rankin, is exceptional and improved this already great book. I wish I could give it an extra star in audible form.

Posted in Audiobooks, Diane's Favorites, Humor, Literary Fiction, New Books, Romance, Women's Fiction Tagged with:

Black Jersey
June 26th, 2019 by diane92345

You are racing on a bicycle in the Tour de France. It’s your first race as a professional earning 50 euros a week (or almost $57 American). Not enough to support this expensive sport but enough to enter the race. If you win the yellow jersey (first place) in even one of the twenty-one stages of the race, you will get some sweet endorsement deals. Unfortunately, you are a domestique destined to help others win but never win yourself. When a series of mishaps befall some of the top racers, the French police ask you to help with their inquiries from within. You agree. What you find will rock your world…

I don’t follow professional cycling and have only occasionally watched it during the Olympics. So I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed reading Black Jersey. In addition to determining the saboteur, it was exciting to feel a part of the races riding first person as Frenchman Marc, the domestique of American Steve both with team Fonar. The author effortlessly weaves the racing into the mystery and the mystery into the racing. The road and the mystery are extremely twisty. The suspects are many. The conclusion was unexpected even though all the clues were in place.

Black Jersey is highly recommended for thriller readers. 5 stars!

26Thanks to Random House and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Diane's Favorites, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with:

The Sentence is Death
June 4th, 2019 by diane92345

Richard Pryce is killed with an expensive wine bottle. The killer writes 182 in green paint on the wall. Those are not the most extraordinary points in The Sentence is Death.

Anthony Horowitz, the fictional writer, written by the real Anthony Horowitz, the author of this book, is working with freelance Detective Daniel Hawthorne again. Horowitz does have a contractual obligation for two more books of 80,000 words each. His attitude is to get the book done so he can go back to working on (the real British television show) Foyle’s War.

Back to the murder. Pryce is a celebrity divorce lawyer working on a 10 million pound settlement. His client’s soon-to-be ex-wife, Akira Anno, threatens to kill Pryce with a wine bottle loudly in a restaurant. Awkward for her when he is found dead by the same method less than 24 hours later.

The Sentence is Murder is another riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma from bestselling author Anthony Horowitz. All I can say is don’t piss the real Mr. Horowitz off. He can obviously plot a murder that no one will solve.

I went into this book looking for the most unlikely suspect who had opportunity. However, I failed to identify the murderer before either Hawthorne or fictional Horowitz. There are really three mysteries here. I feel slightly better because I was able to solve the two smaller ones. For anyone who enjoys mysteries especially golden age or older stories, you can’t go wrong picking this book up. It has no spoilers for the first in the series so they can be read in any order. Highly recommended with a rating of 5 stars! I can’t wait for the third in the planned trilogy.

Thanks to Harper Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Diane's Favorites, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,

Night Window
May 15th, 2019 by diane92345

It’s time for Jane Hawk to finally get some payback for her husband’s death and so much more in Night Window.

The Techno-Arcadians have chased former FBI Agent Jane Hawk through four books already. Jane is trying to bring to light a massive conspiracy of billionaires. The Arcadians inserted a nanobot into Jane’s husband’s brain. When activated, he was forced to kill himself. In previous books, the nanobots were used to create both assassins and sex slaves.

Protecting her young son Travis is Jane’s highest priority as well proving her husband’s innocence. However, Jane’s ultimate goal is to expose the Arcadian’s evil plan to the public. This time she has some help from a former colleague, computer hacker Vikram.

I have been lucky enough to acquire the entire Jane Hawk series as Advanced Reader Copies. While Night Window can be read as a standalone, it is rather like reading the last chapter in a book. You would be cheating yourself out of a suspenseful ride. The conclusion is definitely worth the wait.

The author’s writing style is not for everyone. Mr. Koontz has never met an adjective he didn’t like. While effective in horror, it feels rather out of place in a thriller. It does rather slow down the pace. However, the use of such detailed imagery intensifies the atmosphere and allows a closer connection with the series’ characters. The plot, over the entire series, is engaging enough to compel the reader through each book.

Overall, an excellent conclusion to an outstanding series. 5 stars! Now, please Mr. Koontz, write another excellent paranormal thriller like Watchers.

Thanks to Ballantine Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Diane's Favorites, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: , ,

Bluff
April 1st, 2019 by diane92345

“Poker has its own moral universe. Lying is called bluffing. Deception is the norm.”—from the new humorous revenge thriller Bluff

Maud is convinced that her parent’s financial advisor, Burt, stole all their money. However, she cannot get anyone to believe her.

Broke, Maud plays online poker. Skilled at the game, she wins. When the online casinos are shuttered by the government, Maud turns to live games. Throughout it all, she continues to nurse her grudge with Burt.

One morning, she walks into the Four Seasons and shoots Burt. Luckily for Burt, he is able to shield himself with his lunch companion, and longtime friend, Sun. While Sun is in the ICU, his secrets begin to unravel leading to a domino effect on his entire social circle.

Structured like poker itself, Bluff manages to surprise at every turn. Plus it has many moves like tournament poker. Honestly, if you love thrillers where the motive is cunningly plotted revenge, you will love this tale as much as I do. 5 stars!

Thanks to Poisoned Pen Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Diane's Favorites, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,